State Lawmakers Preparing To Return For Special Session Monday

Tuesday, October 3rd 2017, 7:09 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

Oklahoma lawmakers are being told they will likely have to return to the Capitol for special session Monday. Leaders say they’re close to a deal to fill the $215-million budget hole.

The governor called lawmakers into special session after the State Supreme Court ruled a tobacco tax passed by Republicans in the final hours of the regular session was unconstitutional.

Lawmakers were sent home a few days after special session began when negotiations broke down.

The sticking point continues to be the tax on oil and natural gas production called gross production.  Democrats want it raised to at least five percent, but there aren't enough Republican votes to make that happen.

"We do not have the votes inside the republican caucus to go to five percent. Those votes don't exist,” said Representative Jon Echols (R) House Majority Floor Leader.

So, Republicans have two plans: Continue working with democrats on a gross production tax compromise along with other tax increases or look at cuts.

"Those would be measures that deal with getting rid of tax exemptions, getting rid of tax credits, then streamlining of government,” Echols said.

Republican leaders say they also want to fund some kind of a teacher pay raise. How much that is remains to be seen. But all this, they say, hinges on whether they can reach an agreement in the next few days.

"I believe we are close.” Echols said, “I believe, there's a chance we won't be in session. It's not a guarantee that that's what we're gonna [sic] do."

If legislative leaders can't reach an agreement by the weekend, lawmakers could be told to stay home.